My girlfriend gave me an extraordinary gift last week. She’s had a complicated pregnancy due to polyhydramnios, and no one thought she’d actually make it to term. She did! And I witnessed it!
She and her doctor decided that induction was appropriate. I certainly wasn’t going to pass judgment on that given all she had been through. When she went in for induction, her fundal measurement was 48 weeks. Bless her heart. Of course I worried about her and hated that I had to be at work while she was being “treated.” She was induced early in the morning and had her water broken around 2:30pm in the afternoon. I was concerned about that decision since we all knew the baby wasn’t engaged at all. That could have caused cord compression and/or prolapse which would have been a quite route to a cesarean.
Pitocin was of course used to increase her contractions, and at some point, the pain became unmanageable, so she was given an epidural. I think it was a pretty good epi, because she still had a lot of sensation in her legs and pelvis.
I arrived around 7:30pm to keep her company. She was quite nauseated, poor thing, because she does not tolerate medicine well. She had been checked at 7pm and was only 4cm dilated. I don’t think anyone was very happy with that progress. However, her nurse was very supportive of my friend’s desire to avoid the cesarean, but of course, since my friend couldn’t really move, the way she was supporting this goal was through medical management – increasing pitocin, increasing the epidural to cope with the pain, flipping my friend side to side (when the baby’s heartrate ‘allowed’).
We were all very pleasantly surprised when she was about 6 or 6-1/2 by 8:30pm or so. She was becoming more uncomfortable, and things started to progress much more quickly. Her hubby called her mom and told her to hurry on her way.
Soon after, my friend started to feel pushy. It was pretty exciting. The nurse delayed calling the doctor because she assumed it would still be a while. (I guess you don’t call the doctor until you’re really sure . . . Her doc wasn’t on call but was still planning on delivering the baby. Good on him!)
Anyway, lo and behold she started making progress rather quickly, and I swear it was no time before you could see the baby’s head. It was amazing for me as an observer since when I arrived, she was feeling pretty certain that the baby wasn’t making adequate progress. And it’s not like anything active other than medical management was being done for her to encourage the baby to engage.
At some point the nurse told her to stop pushing. Yeah right. As soon as the nurse left to call the doc, I told her to go ahead and push. There were plenty of people around there who can catch your baby. So she went on about her business. I was surprised that she was purple pushing (pushing to counts of 10), but it seemed like she wanted someone to count, so that’s what was done.
The doctor arrived and told her to slow down. I didn’t get how wise that was at that particular moment. But he told her, and I’ll remember this, “let it build, and then push when you can’t resist.” All in all, I think she pushed for about 45 minutes, and she only needed 2 stitches. Because he was encouraging her to control her pushing, she didn’t tear badly.
The baby emerged – first the head, of course. I left my position by my friend’s head, grabbed the family’s camera, and started taking pictures. I don’t know if she’ll appreciate having pictures of a baby sicking out of her vagina, but man, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. It seemed like the shoulders were a bit sticky, but they freed eventually, and the rest of the baby slid out easily. A beautiful big cord hung from my friend’s body. The baby had a huge conehead – the head really had to mould to get through my friend’s pelvis.
The baby took a while to come around. I was distressed that they weren’t bringing the baby over to my friend very quickly. It seemed like they were doing a LOT of unnecessary stuff. My friend kept asking for him. I’m not sure she even got to see him for 15 minutes or so. Ick.
Stage 3 of labor was over-managed, in my opinion. The OB applied traction to the cord. An enormous placenta came out. It was impressive!! The OB then began externally massaging my friend’s uterus. I don’t recall what else was done to/for her. I was more focused on her emotional state and the baby.
We were all amazed to discover that the baby was 9lbs and 15.4 oz! No wonder the baby’s head was so pointy. I am so glad the doctor encouraged my friend to adjust her pushing strategy. In the end she only needed 2 stitches! Amazing. With the cone, the baby measured 24 inches long. He was so beautiful.
Mom and baby were finally united, and he was latching on within minutes. I left soon after to give the family some private time to bond. I had a hard time going to sleep I was so “high.” I figured I’d be an exhausted puddle of a woman the next day, but I was still “high” from her birth.
I can’t adequately verbalize how much it meant to me to be there as a witness and as a support person. I don’t know that she really needed me there, but she knew I needed to be there. As I write this, I am tearing up. I’ve never seen or experienced a vaginal birth. It was such a marvelous thing for me. And it’s helping me “see” my own upcoming birth.
I’ve studied birth. I’ve watched movies. I’ve watch natural birth videos on YouTube. But there’s nothing like being there in person with a laboring mom. There’s no substitute for seeing a new person emerge from someone’s body. And now I am bonded to birth – this experience can’t be taken away from me no matter what happens in the next few months.